Problem Solving + Innovation

Person writing on a whiteboard

At the U of A we seek out challenges so we can create positive change. We generate innovative solutions that help us to move our vision forward and to meet our teaching and research mandate.

We are facing a number of challenges, but are taking action to transform these challenges into strategic action. University of Alberta for Tomorrow seeks to build U of A's global position in higher education and research.

To achieve these goals we must all anticipate opportunities and challenges, think critically and creatively, and take action to ensure sound decisions and innovative solutions.

Problem solving and innovation means that we:

  • Implement sound, efficient decisions that meet goals and achieve desired outcomes
  • Break down problems into understandable, actionable parts
  • Critically reflect on our biases, assumptions and habitual ways of thinking
  • Challenge the status quo

Learn more about how we define workplace skills.


Mindsets + Skills for Today’s Problem Solver

Facilitator: Lyall Samaroden

The world of work broadly is going through a period of immense change resulting from the global pandemic. Here at the University of Alberta we have had additional disruption and change resulting from the strategic transformation that reimagines our operating model. This shift has profoundly changed how we go about our work at the U of A. Within this context, now more than ever we need to be problem solvers and innovators so we can continuously improve the way we go about our work and find creative solutions to the challenges we face. We need to equip ourselves with the tools and techniques to think differently, see new opportunities, tackle problems, and to create solutions with impact.

This session is for faculty and staff who want to solve problems differently. In this interactive, hands on session, you will learn about the fundamentals of human-centered problem solving. Using the techniques and mindset associated with this approach, you will apply your learning to specific challenges U of A currently faces, including: reframing the challenge around the user, building out a research plan, identifying extreme users and analogues, and defining and sharing the next steps to move your ideas forward. Finally, you will consider how you might apply this approach to a challenge you currently face in your day to day work reality.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Explain the tools and mindsets used in human-centered thinking as an approach to problem-solving.
  • Practice using the tools and mindsets used in human-centered thinking by:
    • Taking on your user or client’s perspective (external or internal to your unit) in the work you do.
    • Participating in effective group ideation and learning how to refine concepts to create great solutions.
    • Applying empathetic, user-centric mindset to understand problems and generate impactful solutions.
    • Testing and validating solutions to identify the ones that are likely to produce desired business outcomes.
  • Identify opportunities to apply human-centered design in your own work.

Workshops that address the curriculum are offered and added throughout the year. Please visit the U of A Events hub to find available courses. If you are interested in offering a workshop to your team that currently has no availability, please contact to discuss options.